A family have slammed the out-of-hours service after waiting eight hours for a doctor to certify their mother was dead.
Patricia Martin, 86, died at her daughter Janet Moore’s home in Wisbech at 11.15am on Sunday.
But Mrs Moore and her husband Allen could not make arrangements until after a doctor could certify the death.
Despite repeated calls to the 111 service, which is provided by IC24, the couple say the doctor did not arrive until 7.20pm. Mr Moore has now branded the service as “laughable”.
He said: “I would warn people not to die between 5pm on a Friday and 8am on Monday in Wisbech.
“It’s laughable, they put these systems in place which are supposed to help you, but they don’t.
“The last thing we wanted to do when that happened was to spend the day rushing around trying to get a doctor.
“It is not very nice to have a body in the back bedroom for hours.”
Mrs Martin, who moved to Wisbech from Kent eight years ago, suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
She was being cared for by her daughter and husband at their home in Turnpike Road. The Marie Curie Nurses had been out on Saturday night.
She died at around 11.15am on Sunday, when Mr Moore contacted the Trinity Doctors Surgery to inform them of the death.
But was then patched through to 111 and was told it could take six hours for a doctor to arrive.
He contacted the 111 service again at 5.15pm after hearing nothing.
During the day, a district nurse arrived to remove medical equipment and also called the 111 service to speed along the arrival of the doctor.
But he was then patched through to 111 and was told it could take six hours for a doctor to arrive. He contacted the 111 service again at 5.15pm after hearing nothing. During the day, a district nurse arrived and also called the 111 service. Mr Moore said: “She rang later on and was stonewalled again.”
In desperation the family event contacted Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Lynn, who also tried but did not get any further. Mr Moore said: “When the doctor did arrive, he said he had been in Wisbech since 7am but had been called to Fakenham.”
IC24 began operating the service in September.
Interim CEO Lorraine Gray said: “We would like to begin by offering our apologies and sincere condolences to the family of Patricia Martin. We understand that any delay would be distressing at such a difficult time. We have investigated this thoroughly and although no consolation to the family, we did complete the visit within the National Quality Requirements time-frame of ‘within six hours’.
“The learning from this incident is that there are different skill sets within different services and, unfortunately, on this occasion the call was passed back to the out-of-hours GP to verify death by the district nursing team who were unable to verify death for the family.